In my first blog post I wrote that part of our work in the Office of Financial Empowerment is connecting with people and organizations around the country that are building financial stability for low-income and other economically vulnerable Americans.
Last week, over 400 participants joined Miss April Director Richard Cordray, Division of Consumer Education and Engagement Associate Director Gail Hillebrand, and me for a conference call that marked our office’s formal launch. We were thrilled to have participants from a wide range of stakeholders in our work, including financial institutions, community-based organizations, social services, and local governments.
On the call, Director Cordray shared that one of the office’s key goals is to help empower consumers to better understand how different financial choices and products impact their financial lives and how to take control of their financial lives. He emphasized that the office will also work with others across the Bureau to help create protections in the marketplace for the most economically vulnerable consumers.
The Bureau’s resources and focus on consumer protection and empowerment place it in a unique position. We’ll use that position to develop tools for consumers and those who serve them, spotlight innovation and best practices, and engage with consumers who haven’t been well-served by their financial products.
All of this work will be informed by listening to organizations in the field. In fact, that outreach is crucial to the work’s success. We’ve already had conversations and visits with some of you. In those discussions we’ve heard what seem to us to be crucial, sensible lessons for addressing the financial challenges faced by low-income and other economically vulnerable people.
As we continue our outreach, we know that to reach consumers where they are, we need to identify the “touch points” where people are in contact with agencies and programs that deliver services and benefits. And as we find ways to work together, we can connect their clients to tools and resources that help them make the most of their money. Tools and resources to better enable consumers to choose financial products and services that help them reach their goals, not set them back.
As Director Cordray shared on the call, we cannot do this work alone. We approach our tasks with full appreciation and respect for the groundbreaking work organizations and institutions across the country have already done, and continue to do. I hope to work together to bring solutions to low-income and economically vulnerable consumers – solutions that are cost-effective, consumer-friendly, scalable, and sustainable both for consumers and providers. It’s not a small job, but it’s one we can achieve together.